Note to self: Do not forget earplugs for next Skrillex concert. Nearly 12 hours after the show concluded, my ears are still ringing a little.
12th Planet opened for Skrillex; he was the perfect booster to get bodies loosened up and dancing feet acclimated. His fondness for hip hop was on tap early in his set (highlights included samples of Waka Flocka Flame’s "Hard In Da Paint" and Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Niggas in Paris”) but he proceeded to get progressively harder, bassier, and more rugged. Fearful I’d spoil my appetite for bass, I opted for a mid-set break in the lobby- right about the time the Egyptian Room’s ceiling started peeling and falling to the crowd like autumn leaves from a tree.
Skrillex’s stage setup seemed relatively simple. A large screen backdrop displayed technical-looking graphics of hexagons, helixes, and animated circuit boardimagery that cycled through a rainbow of neon color schemes. Perhaps most impressive image was the towering, lanky skeleton that danced on the screen behind Skrillex, mimicking his every move. The skeleton’s presence was not continual-he popped in and out sporadically through the show-and would later reappear with skin as a generic, faceless model of the body.
As is the case with most events centered in the rave culture, there was a lot of good people-watching. Outfits ranged from scantily clad girls in bras and fuzzy boots to guys with no shirts on to full-body jumpsuits of a single, solid color. There were plenty of costumes to observe (what up, Mario?). Men were wearing glitter with pride and glowing toys were in abundance.
The front half of the room was densely populated. In fact, the crowd was so thick that I, a self-proclaimed expert at crowd navigating, didn’t even bother trying to squeeze forward. Rather, I found a spot with the more sparsely occupied neighborhood in the back half of the room where I found it easier to dance-and breathe.
Nonetheless, the entire population was mostly nice and friendly. They respected personal space and many of my total-stranger neighbors vibed with me-not through words, but through dance. Just as I made this realization, Skrillex delivered a heartfelt speech by asking everyone to put their hands in the air and make the peace sign. We obliged, and he told us it was all about the peace and love. “We’re all friends. I love you guys. I seriously do. Turn around and give your neighbor a hug.”
Skrillex did a lot of remixing, giving his popular (often over-played) tunes a fresh twist. With the exception of a few interjections sprinkled throughout, Skrillex remained vocally quiet for most of the show and let his music do the talking. He dropped the famous “OH MY GOD!” sample early on in the set, and closed the night with the full version of “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites."
More than halfway through, Skrillex announced new music that he was excited to play for us. The run of fresh tunes centered around the song “First Of The Year (Equinox)” from his latest EP. The fans’ unruly and enthusiastic reaction to these newer, not-so-easily recognizable tracks (easily one of the night’s highest moments of energy) signaled to me that Skrillex fans are actively seeking out and latching onto his new work (the More Monsters & Sprites EP dropped just five months ago) and are simply not content with just his mainstream productions.
Last night at The Murat, the bass was strong enough to vibrate the hair on my arms and rattle my rib cage. The visuals were awe-inspiring, but not so flashy that they distracted from the actual performance. The audience was happy, alert and dancing like there was no tomorrow. And most importantly, Skrillex gave Indy a performance that was more than just a live replay of his music; he united a room of 2,000 people through the power of bass to give us a holistic experience of sight, sound, and dance.